Hoi Fai Leung (chmikeangel@hotmail.com)
Fri, 02 Jul 1999 01:36:31 EDT

Aliens in Gundam?

I think it is not that the existence of aliens makes the story good or bad,
but the idea, which you try to represent from the existence of aliens,
determines whether or not the story is worth watching . For example, in
"Independence Day," people fight against aliens. To me, the existence of
aliens is for the seek of excitement only. While the movie is kind of
exciting the first time I see it, I am bored when I see it the second time.
The only exciting part is when the president of the US declares war against
aliens at Fourth of July. However, it is not the fact that aliens exist
makes it exciting, it is the feeling of people united to pursue one goal
that makes it worth watching. Same for the Macross movie, "Do You Remember
Love," what keeps us from watching it over and over again without getting
bored is the fact that the Macros is essentially a love story. Another
example is the TV series of Tekkaman Blade. The elements which makes the
story worth watching is the fact that Tekkaman Blade has to fight against
his only brothers in order to protect the earth. We feel bitter for him
deeply. By now, I think everyone should realize the worth watching part of
the stories are all human stories. In other words, what makes a story worth
watching is how much you can relate yourself to the story. Therefore, you
can have an excellent "human" story with alien running around either as
allies or enemy. Yet, Gundam does not fit for this kind of excitement.

Just like most of you, I learn about Gundam through model kits. I still
remember when I was in Hong Kong years ago, I brought a new model kit almost
every other week, given the fact that I did not have much money to buy them.
  However, when I came to the US, I have to stop. Because internet (where I
can order them off the net) is not as popular back then and the models kits
are very rare and kind of expensive from where I live. Yet, because I stop
enjoying Gundam through its model kits, I gain my chance to understand what
separate Gundam from other robot titles.

Besides the great human achievement people in Gundam has accomplished as
someone has mentioned, there is also an uncertainly about good and bad in
the Gundam series. For almost 90% of the robot titles out there, there is
always a clear cut about which side is the bad side and which side is the
good one. Whenever we watch those series, we can always identify which side
is the good one simply because this is how the story is set. With the
involvement of aliens, it is even clearer that aliens will be the bad side
in most cases. So the good side kills all aliens and we all can yell, "Good
for him!" However, in the Gundam series before F91, there simply is not any
indication about which side is good. From the very beginning, Federation
Government fights against the Zeon army in the original Gundam series. The
story is focused on the Federation Government's movement. We watch them
fight against Zeon army. With the main character on our side, this is the
image of the "good side" in every other robot titles. However, we also
realize the Federation Government has its internal problems, such as the
indifferent feeling about letting its army die in war, the generals
carelessly making military decisions which result in more death, etc.
Clearly, we do not expect these "bad" elements in our "good" side. On the
other hand, in the Zeon army, their mission is actually encouraging the
evolution of human raise. Yet, the Zeon army earns a bad impression by
doing thing the "bad" way, such as crashing a colony to the earth. There
simply is not a clear cut about which side is good or bad. Yet, in this
environment, the people in the story still fight the war as if something
they do-not-like-to-do-but-must-continue-doing-it-anyway. This is even more
obvious in Z Gundam, where everyone major character fights the war according
to his/her own reason. Therefore, it is not unreasonable when people go to
different side of the war easily and frequently. This confusing setting
about good and bad is more realistic than most of the robot vs alien titles.
  As we all know, there is no such thing as pure evil and pure goodness
(without getting into religious issues). Because Gundam is building under
such a realistic setting, it is very hard to believe aliens or whatever
creatures will just pop up from nowhere (and don't tell me things like they
have been watching us for thousands of years).

The sad news is, I do not have a chance to watch anything after F91 and
0083. I do not have a very good understanding about G Gundam, W Gundam,
etc. Yet, when the V and G Gundam comes out, I must say that I feel kind of
sad. For V Gundam, it just kind of unrealistic to have a less-than-ten year
old boy driving a Gundam to fight a war. While, the story of V Gundam is
still centering in war, the G Gundam just crashes original attraction about
Gundam. The idea of having multiple Gundam fighting against each other is
unbelievably similar to DragonBall style, which is not realistic at all.
The only answer I can have is the company is trying to sell their toys by
using the name "Gundam." Furthermore, when W Gundam comes along, I must say
the appearance of the five Gundams and characters confused me with the
setting of Soiler Moon. Although, given the fact that I have not seen the
series yet, my impression might be off a lot from the reality. Yet, it
becomes clear that the company is trying to sell its toys. (I am not saying
everyone should not buy them. In fact, I think the design of the those
Gundams is excellent, but lets not use the name "Mobile Suit Gundam" to
describe them.) Since I have not watch any of the series, I cannot say this
changes is, in fact, good or bad. And I do not think I am the one to judge
whether the original or the new style of Gundam is better. If the only
reason of establishing Gundam is to sell toys, there is no reason that alien
should not appears. However, by then, I am really not sure whether or not I
will still consider them as "Gundam" anymore.


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